Formed in 1980, APAC first worked to eliminate no-cause eviction and to create new storm shelter standards. These efforts eventually led to a special section of state law for manufactured home parks (Minnesota Statute 327C), providing numerous resident rights and protections. Currently, APAC is developing strategy for our top priorities for the 2014 Legislative Session as selected by members at our October 12 Annual Meeting.
2014 Legislative Priorities
Lift the cap on Relocation Trust Fund benefits
- The Manufactured Home Relocation Trust Fund is a program supported by a $12 annual fee from home owners. It provides for moving costs or a home buy-out in the event of a park community closure. During the 2011 session, a $1 million cap was placed on the Trust Fund at the urging of the community owners. It was adopted without a public hearing or any resident input. This amount is not enough to cover the costs of just one large park community closure. In addition, if the balance in the trust fund is not allowed to rise, it will not be possible to increase the maximum benefits for relocation or buy-out. The maximum benefits are now set well below the average amount of these costs for displaced home owners.
Extend mandatory background checks for apartment managers to cover park managers
- State law has required background checks for apartment managers since 1995 (MN Statute 299C.66). The law requires that property owners run background checks on prospective building managers. If the individual has been convicted of a serious crime (murder, rape, stalking, etc.), the property owner may not hire them or must discharge them if the manager has already been hired. The legislative history and case law related to the apartment manager background checks demonstrates that it does not currently apply to park managers and the legislature must act.
Classify manufactured homes as real property
- Many states’ laws concerning manufactured homes have not kept pace with the changes in the homes over the last 90 years. Based on manufactured homes’ earliest ancestor (the travel trailer), state laws classify most of these homes as personal property and title them like cars. Once called “mobile homes,” only 19 percent of homes are ever moved from their initial placement. Today’s homes have the same construction quality and safety, life expectancy and deterioration rate, and even appearance as site-built homes. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws has developed model legislation for modernizing state titling laws to recognize the homes as real property, in order to improve access to better home financing, which can provide buyers with the same legal protections as site-built home owners.
Manufactured Housing Metering and Fairness in Utility Billing Act
- In manufactured home parks, water and sewer services are most often provided as a pass through by the park owner from a municipal utility to the residents. Unfortunately, lost in the pass through are the consumer protections provided to the park owner as utility’s only recognized customer. With some adjustments, this proposal ensures that residents receive those basic protections. It also allows for park owners to switch from including water and sewer service in the lot rent to individually sub-metering as long as the cost is backed out of the lot rent. It has been unlawful for park owners to make this switch unilaterally since a 2002 state Appellate Court decision, which found it to be a “substantial modification” to existing leases that entails “a significant new expense for a resident.” Minn. Stat. § 327C.02 (2008).